Saturday, June 24, 2017

Professional Development: A Future Ready Library Buffet

Before the end of school, I was super excited to get an email from an Arkansas Educational Cooperative in our state. They wanted to know if I was available to present a summer session on Skype, Makerspaces, and other library leadership topics to teacher librarians in the area served by the cooperative. I was thrilled and nervous at the same time since it would be a six-hour session. I have presented breakout sessions at conferences and even a few keynotes, but never a full day facilitating professional learning. I remember looking at the calendar and programming a date during my summer vacation time. Then came the fun part: planning the event.

I asked my wife Cindy (@CindyRookEvans) to join me on this trip. She is also a teacher librarian at the K-6 level, and I knew that she could share some powerful stories for those attending from elementary schools. We brainstormed and decided to share about our many library collaboration programs, Mystery Skype and Skype Field Trips, Makerspaces, Social Media Presence, and Annual Reports. By the end of school, I was ready for the training date to come around so we could share these topics with new friends.

 The Event

We arrived at the DeQueen-Mena Education Cooperative in plenty of time to set up and prepare for teacher librarians to show up. I started with introductions and a Microsoft Sway I had created to outline the day.

Library Collaborations 

To start our content for the day, we shared about our many library collaboration programs from grades K-6 and 8-12. I enjoyed telling the story of how our first common core collaboration began in 2012 with the book Fearless by Eric Blehm. I also shared about collaborations centered around the Dust Bowl and Great Gatsby. Several teacher librarians began sharing how they would like to do a similar collaboration using the book Fearless around 9/11 or Veterans Day. It was encouraging to see teacher librarians thinking out of the box and considering new ways to collaborate and connect with their learning communities. Cindy shared about some of the collaborations she had done over the past two years with grades 5 and 6, such as Writing in the Dark, Mythology Introduction, and Court in the Library. Again, several teacher librarians seemed interested in knowing more.

The best way to learn Mystery Skype... Do it!
Mystery Skype

For the next event, I shared about Mystery Skype and how we use this engaging activity to collaborate with social studies and geography classes. After a brief introduction, we set up the room and actually connected with Tracey Wong (@TraceyCarayol) and her 3rd-grade students in New York to practice playing Mystery Skype. We connected with them for about 30 minutes. Afterward, we asked her students why they enjoy Mystery Skype. One girl said she liked connecting with other places. It was so good to have our group of 14 teacher librarians hearing student voices share their excitement about connecting! Thank you for playing Mystery Skype with us, Tracey!

Teacher Librarians loved Skype in the Classroom
Skype in the Classroom

Next, we shared the Skype in the Classroom portion of the Microsoft Education website. I had the teacher librarians find virtual field trips that they might want to try this next school year. Several teacher librarians found interesting potential trips! Most of them were not aware of these wonderful resources. I was so glad we could share these tools with them.


Many of the teacher librarians didn't have experience with Makerspace tools. To give them some hands-on opportunities, we set up 5 tables in the classroom with different innovation tools to try out. We had Legos, Makey-Makeys, K'nex, Little Bits, electronic kits, Cublets, Light Up Edison Kit, and Ollies.  We split them into groups and had them change table stations every 10 minutes. We went around and helped if they needed it. The teacher librarians learned that the best way to get comfortable with maker activities is to just give it a try. We also encouraged them to let their students be the experts. Student-led innovations have worked wonderfully for us at our schools. 

Makerspace Stations
Annual Reports

I shared how annual reporting has changed the perception of the school library at both school districts I have served as a teacher librarian. We took a long look at the components that I selected. I also shared my reasons for choosing each component for my annual reports.

Social Media Presence

I ended the day with sessions on how we use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and blogging to share the value of our school library programs. I also shared how these tools were now connecting us to educators all over the nation and world. It was a lot of fun to share a few stories about connecting from this school year.


I felt honored to be invited to share our best practices with educators in a different part of the state. I hope our new friends will take a few of the tools that we shared and try them this school year. In reflection, I think I crammed too much into the day. It was a good introduction to many concepts that have changed the learning communities at both my school and Cindy's. Since there never is enough time for any professional development, perhaps, this "Future Ready Library Buffet" training was just right to give the teacher librarians a small taste of how they can change their schools forever.

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Makerspace resources we are adding to our libraries.

How our students presented innovation spaces in the library.

My table of contents for the blog is here!

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  1. Sounds like a terrific day! Sometimes a buffet is just what's needed. And a great way to get your feet wet doing full day workshops. I bet you were both exhausted and energized at the end? I've done hundreds of full day workshops over the years, love it, but it's hard on the feet. :)

    1. It was fun and tiring! But so worth it to see TLs exposed to these tools and concepts! Hope your summer is going great.